Cheaper substitute for VAC Avatar?


I owned a VAC Avatar for several years, but had to sell it 3 years ago due to medical/financial issues. With sufficiently efficient speakers - meaning at least 89/90 db. and an easy load, such as larger Spendors or Reference 3A -- the standard Avatar in triode was really great. I'd love to pick up another one, but my budget hasn't fully recovered sufficient to afford it, even at current used prices. Any advice on current or used budget gear that might come reasonably close? I especially liked the VAC with 60s & 70s hard/bop jazz, older classic rock and blues vinyl - great inner dynamic contrasts. Thanks,

Check out some of the used Cayin integrateds. great sound and build quality at very reasonable prices.
You liked the EL34 version? Just to be sure on comparables.
The Jolida JD102B uses EL84 output tubes that have great sound and are inexpensive to replace. Ideal with the same type higher efficiency (90db and up)speakers and should run you less than $600 including shipping.IMHO one of the best values in audio today.
2nd the Cayin choice. Sonics and build are first rate - especially for the price!
Thanks for the advice. To the person who asked whether it was the EL34 amp, yes it was, and the base model, not the SE. FYI, if you heard it trying to drive large floorstanders with multiple drivers, it wouldn't surprise me if you were disappointed, despite what VAC said about it being able to drive almost any speaker. However, within in the context I used it, in a small to moderate room with efficient 2-way bookshelf speakers, and a high quality vinyl setup, it could be startlingly realistic, dynamic and uncolored.

BTW, I heard the PHI integrated once with large Tannoys, and even though it used KT88s, I thought the sound was voiced quite similar, though obviously the system had a greater frequency range.

Would you consider something like a completely newly built version of the Dynaco ST70 built by Bob Latino or Will Vincent? I think they sell for $845 or so with EL34s and are said to be a significant improvement in the bass compared with the original with a classic tube midrange. While the same basic design, they are upgraded with modern parts and improved specs on the parts. Seems well built for the money and does provide that EL34 magic in the midrange.
Another worthy choice- Ming Da 34 AB. See Pacific Valve and Electric website. Also see Positive Feedback review
I had Aronov 960 integrated, and a while I was also thinking to upgrade to VAC Avatar. The Avatar has, at least as I heard, a more refined, silkier and more audiophile sound. Aronov, had a more robust sound. Likely, the Avatar is nicer amp for small ensemble classical music and similar ones. But for the kind of music you like you may better off with Aronov, which you could have less than 1000 usd.
PrimaLuna PL-2 with 12ax/12au tube upgrade.Shuguang/Mazda:about $100.

I actually had the Aronov before the VAC. Different speakers and other components, so hard to fully evaluate. My brother prefered the Aronov, but I thought the VAC was all-round better. The Aronov seemed to me to have deeper bass, but a little too warm-sounding for me. I thought the VAC LF response was more accurate and detailed, and the mids, highs and overall tone and integrated sound clearly better. Still, if I saw a used Aronov for under $1000, I would snap it up. Budget is sub-1000. Thanks.

what is 'budget' gear priced at?

If you could swing the used Audio Note Soro for sale here on Agon it is amazing with a very robust 18 wpc
you can find a rogue cronus for around 1150 including shipping right now on audiogon. its an exeptional buy, even at its list price, and sonically resembles some of the finest classic tube gear
If you don't like warmth, forget the Dynaco - it tend to have a classic tube sound though less so in the rebuilds.